High honour for Professor Naidu
University of Newcastle (UON) Professor Ravi Naidu has received a prestigious Doctor of Science from Massey University, NZ, honouring more than 30 years of world-class research in environmental contamination. The degree recognises Professor Naidu’s substantial original contributions to knowledge in his field.
Professor Naidu, who holds a Global Innovation Chair at UON, pioneered ‘in situ’ soil remediation techniques, evolving historical ‘dig and dump’ practices, where contaminated soil is simply moved from one location to another.
Professor Naidu has patented seven remediation technologies including a product for the toxic chemicals left behind by firefighting foams, which are currently under scrutiny at Williamtown and other sites nationally.
"We developed a solution that can irreversibly and selectively capture toxic substances present in wastewater using a naturally occurring material modified with a nontoxic chemical," said Professor Naidu.
With an estimated five million contaminated sites globally, most of which exist in populated urban areas, Professor Naidu is also developing solutions for toxic chemicals that threaten human health.
Professor Naidu credits his family with inspiring his career in research. Raised in a farming family in Fiji, he was encouraged by his parents to pursue university study. When his parents sadly passed away before he was 20, Professor Naidu was driven to further educate himself to support his brothers and sisters.
Thirty years on, this deep sense of responsibility still drives Professor Naidu.
“As our population grows, the amount of pollution and contamination also grows. If we’re not able to come up with cost-effective, manageable techniques to solve the problem, then it will be our children and grandchildren who will pay the price,” said Professor Naidu.
University of Newcastle Vice-Chancellor, Professor Caroline McMillen congratulated Professor Naidu on his achievement and said she was delighted by yet another step forward in his remarkable career.
“Professor Naidu has achieved incredible impact in his field of research and we are thrilled to see his distinguished career being recognised in this way. Professor Naidu’s work is a proud example of the world-class research and technological innovation that is cultivated in our region and goes on to deliver outcomes for the globe.”
Professor Naidu leads the Global Centre for Environmental Remediation (GCER) based at UON's NIER facility (Newcastle Institute for Energy and Resources) and is also the Managing Director of the Cooperative Research Centre for Contamination Assessment and Remediation of the Environment (CRC CARE), an independent organisation that performs research, develops technologies and provides policy guidance for assessing, cleaning up and preventing contamination of soil, water and air. CRC CARE, which has attracted over $150 million in government and industry funding since its launch in 2005, relocated to UON in 2015.